1 hour 20 minutes
This chicken and dumplings recipe sits somewhere in the glorious space between soup and stew, with chunks of tender chicken, just the right amount of vegetables, and super fluffy dumplings.
There are lots of shortcuts out there for easy chicken and dumplings—recipes that call for cream of chicken soup, Instant Pots, crockpots, Bisquick, rotisserie chicken, and the like—but making it from scratch gives you more control over the final dish and yields a deep, rich chicken flavor. One commenter declared that this recipe made her feel “as if I’ve never, truly, tasted chicken!”
Start by making the chicken broth in a large pot. Don’t be tempted to trade the bone-in chicken thighs and legs for boneless skinless chicken breasts—cooked chicken breasts can dry out, becoming tough and stringy. We do encourage swapping out the vegetables cooked with the chicken for fresh ones you’ll sauté in schmaltz or melted butter so they’ll still have a bit of bite when the dish is ready. If it’s your first time making drop dumpling dough, don’t fret: The secret to this easy recipe is the right ratio of liquid (buttermilk), leaveners (baking powder and baking soda), and fat (schmaltz). You can sub whole milk and butter if needed. As they cook, resist the urge to lift the top of the pot and let the steam escape. Use the cooking time to make a salad—it’s the only accompaniment needed for a complete meal.
chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)
leek, pale-green and white parts only
carrots, 1 whole, 3 chopped into ½-inch rounds
celery stalks, 1 whole, 3 chopped into ½-inch pieces
medium onion, chopped, divided
garlic cloves, smashed
Parsley stems from ½ bunch
teaspoons whole peppercorns
cup chicken fat (schmaltz) or butter, melted, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
cups all-purpose flour, divided
teaspoons baking powder
teaspoon baking soda
cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
cup heavy cream
Chopped chives (for serving)
Bring chicken, leek, whole carrot, whole celery stalk, half of onion, garlic, thyme, parsley stems, bay leaf, peppercorns, and 3 quarts water to a simmer in a large wide pot. Cook, uncovered, until chicken is cooked through, 40–50 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and let sit until cool enough to handle. Shred meat from thighs and legs, discarding skin, bones, and excess fat. Cover meat with foil to keep warm; set aside.
Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Wipe out pot, pour stock back in, and bring to a simmer. Stir in 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. salt.
Heat ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. schmaltz in a large skillet over medium. Cook chopped carrot, chopped celery, and remaining onion, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened but not completely tender, 8–10 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add ½ cup flour and cook, stirring, until vegetables are coated, about 1 minute. Scrape vegetable mixture into simmering stock and whisk until liquid is thickened and no lumps remain, then continue to cook until vegetables are tender, 10–15 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk baking powder, baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper, and remaining 1 cup flour in a medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk and remaining 3 Tbsp. schmaltz in a small bowl. Fold buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients just until dough comes together (be careful not to overmix or dumplings will be tough).
Add cream and reserved chicken to stew and return to a simmer. Drop tablespoon-sized portions of dough into stew (don’t worry if they aren’t perfect, they will puff up as they cook). Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Uncover and check dumplings for doneness: They should be about 5 times larger and should cover entire surface of stew. To be extra sure, you can remove a dumpling and cut it in half to see if it’s cooked through; the interior should look like a soft dinner roll. If they’re not fully cooked, cover and cook 2 minutes more.
Divide chicken soup and dumplings among bowls, then top with chives.
Do Ahead: Chicken soup, without dumplings, can be made 3 days ahead; cover and chill.
Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published in February 2017 as part of BA’s Best, a collection of our essential recipes. Head this way for more of our favorite hearty soup recipes →